Oh no, what do you do?

Author Topic: Bell or hello?

Bell or hello?
« on: March 22, 2024 »
You're approaching a pedestrian or equestrian (count the legs to be sure) on a country lane. What do you do, ring the bell that technically should be installed on your handlebars, or offer a hearty "Hello!" to get their attention? The former is, at best, cheerily pushy, whilst the latter risks conversation, as happened to me the other day when this scenario played out for the benefit of this post.

It was a couple with a dog (total: 8 legs). As I passed with the usual greeting, the woman nearly jumped out of her skin. This played on my mind down the road, so I turned around and presented them with my survey.

"Oh, everything startles me!" she laughed. The man said it's quiet thereabouts and you simply don't expect company. Neither had a problem with my approach. So that's our votes cast.

This also happened. Nothing to do with bells, so you can either stick with it or allow your attention to wander elsewhere.

I was going down the same peaceful stretch yesterday evening as the light leaked out of the sky. Really should have strapped on the portable illuminator I keep in the saddlebag for such occasions, but figured I could get away with it, as the red one bringing up the rear was blinking away, and if a car appeared in front of me I'd simply pull over. I didn't think anything of pedestrians, as I could see them and would simply slow down to make sure nothing untoward happened.

Well, some pedestrians were in fact coming, and I did in fact slow right down, turning off the concert that's usually going on in the perfect acoustical space between my ears.

"You were almost invisible," the gentleman said, not in the slightest danger but his judgement of speed perhaps impaired by that nagging voice in so many people's brains summoned by cyclists. My preferred reply of course came when it was too late to offer it, it sometimes being unwise to turn around: "I could have said the same of you."

Honesty compels me to add a "Told you so!" to this anecdote. The final stretch home is only a few hundred yards, or metres if you must, down much busier tarmac. It was enough to get lost in my head, which as we all know is a dangerous place to be, for I suddenly looked up to find a car racing down the wrong side of the road at me, his decision to pass a slowpoke uninformed by an hitherto undisclosed velosoloist. I didn't have time to panic, merely observe mortality as it bore down. It wasn't that close, but close enough. The universe rests its case.